Relationships are hard. Relationships also affect every aspect of our lives. When there is a disconnection in one of your close relationships it can throw off the quality of your work, your health, and how you interact within all your other relationships. There is power in connecting with other people; when you trust that you'll find within those connections, whether it's a stranger, neighbor, or friend, you'll be delivered exactly what you need.
A couple weeks ago I had a meeting setup so I arrived at the coffee shop a couple minutes early, ordered a plain latte with almond milk, and sat down. After 15 minutes had passed, I realized something must have happened with the meeting so I was going to finish my latte and head out. Right then someone I've known since I was a child sat down in the empty seat. He shared that he had recently run into my parents, I made a comment about how funny they are, and then just like magic he gave me sage words of advice. He agreed that relationships are hard but that it can be really simple if we would just realize what our parts are and do them. His example was a simple one, his wife puts the trash out by the door and his part is to take it the rest of the way to the trash pickup. This reminded me of Alan sitting the dishes beside the sink; instead of being frustrated or annoyed I could just make putting the dish in the dishwasher or sink my part. I could even have a conversation with Alan about what parts we'd each like to take (or give away). Basically I could do a number of things that didn't involve being frustrated or annoyed. The sage advice continued on to being able to give each other space to do things we enjoyed and maybe the other one didn't, and how important it is do things that you love and also do them on your own.
Everything I heard that morning was sound advice and a quality conversation but what makes it extraordinary is it came at a time I was feeling disconnected in my own marriage, annoyed with chores, and wondering if it was normal that we do so many things on our own. During Alan's busy season we don't get to spend much time together. All couples start to bicker when they don't spend enough time together. That morning the person I expected to speak to didn't show up but the exact words I needed to hear did.
Relationships between parents and toddlers can be hard. Cannon is two and a half and after what seemed to be a particularly trying couple of weeks I felt wore out. Finding the balance between work, and parenting, and quality time with each other as well as myself has been tricky. Each time I find balance we move into a new season, a new schedule, a new learning curve presents itself. My patience had really been wearing thin, I was even aware that most of the things normally wouldn't even bother me. I talked about it with Alan, family, and close friends who all empathized with my struggle and asked how they could help. The trouble was, I didn't really know.
We ended up at the park one Sunday afternoon and ran into a neighborhood family. They have six children ranging from toddler to preteen. I've always enjoyed encounters with them and their children but on this particular day they gave me exactly what I needed. The day before had been a rough one with Cannon, no nap, lots of broken things, and little to no work. While talking with my neighbors I believe I actually used the term "annoying phase". I called my two year old annoying. While I'm positive I'm not the first or last parent to do so it didn't feel good to me. Their patient, kind, and honest conversation while they were also parenting six children AND being patient and kind to the extra two year old flipped my perspective.
We chatted about how equally (if not more) frustrating it is to be a two year old. They assured me that all of his two year old tendencies were not only normal but they were okay. Their patience, kindness, and ease with which they parented reminded me of how amazing these little people really are. Their patience and kindness weren't what I would have known to ask for when family and friends asked "how can I help", but it was exactly what I needed.
Relationships are hard. Relationships also deliver us exactly what we need. Whether it's a relationship with the people we live with or the people we just happen to run into, we'll get exactly what we need if we just listen and do our part.